Fantastic Fest: ‘The Greasy Strangler’ assaults audiences with nudity and gore

Charles Liu

“The Greasy Strangler” takes the line between good and bad taste and obliterates it. This is a juvenile and repulsive film that imbues the quirkiness of “Napoleon Dynamite” with sex, gore and lots and lots of grease.

Just in case you were wondering, yes, there is a Greasy Strangler in this movie. He is not purely a metaphor — he’s actually an old naked guy who stalks the night lathered in oily fat and strangles people. His first victims are some poor chumps outside a motel. Then he targets a hot dog vendor. Faces are flattened, eyes are popped out and ears are ripped off. 

The special effects are cheesy but meticulously crafted, and so gross that the movie will be an unpleasant experience for anyone watching  with a snack. The body count rises; whether the film’s entertainment value does will vary depending on the viewer.

The Greasy Strangler’s identity is Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels). By day, he and his middle-aged loser son, Big Brayden (Sky Elobar), give tours around an unnamed town that supposedly played a big part in the history of disco. Ronnie’s a complete jerk to Brayden, constantly barking at him and calling him a “bullshit artist.” When one tourist, Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo), asks Brayden out on a date, the infuriated Ronnie begins vying for Janet’s affection. The father-and-son dynamic is interesting, to say the least. 

Elobar plays Brayden as a supersized, all-grown-up Napoleon Dynamite. Michaels yells a lot and unashamedly (and perhaps courageously) marches around the screen with a mesmerizingly disgusting prosthetic Biggus Dickus flailing about. Ronnie and Brayden are extremely bitter toward each other and see Janet as a prize that will prove one’s manhood over the other.

Director and co-writer Jim Hosking indulges in nudity and obscenities without any concern for taboo. The movie’s unabashed weirdness is strangely endearing, and the humor, often scatological and crude, attacks like a blunt hammer. The dialogue can be repetitive and abrasive; one gets the feeling that Hosking uses his lines to purposely try one’s patience.

This is indeed an absurd feature, but in spite of (or perhaps because of) its depravity, it should be a fun time for those who can embrace it for what it is. “The Greasy Strangler” won’t find a wide audience, but it will stay with the filmgoer who seeks out niche gross-out experiences.

“The Greasy Strangler”
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rating: NR
Score: 4/5 stars